So you’ve decided to make your next trip Universal Studios Hollywood, while some days will bring long lines more than others, we have some tips to avoid Universal Studios Hollywood wait times and ways to make this the best day. As one of the major theme parks in California, planning your ideal day starts with picking the day of your visit and then planning what is important to you in terms of lands and rides. Also, whether or not you are staying at a resort partner or not for close proximity to the park.
Universal Studios Hollywood is a fun day for the whole family, the theme park is tucked into the Hollywood hills, and you have probably missed it a time or two. As you make your way up Universal Hollywood Drive, you are greeted with a ginormous minion face smiling down at you. If that isn’t a warm welcome, I’m not sure what is.
With the new Fast and The Furious Roller Coaster announcement knowing the secrets to avoid wait times at Universal Studios Hollywood is going to be essential.
Well, and… quick stops for Guy Diamond along the way. The look on that girl’s face… well, my face when she saw Guy Diamond. Like, come on. Cuteness overload.
We are huge Harry Potter fans, so we made it a priority to go there first when it wasn’t busy, then come back again later that night to enjoy a few more rides and the interactive wand experiences. With Butter Beer and the seasonal Mead in hand, we were off to conquer the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
As with most of our theme park tips, we suggest showing up early for park opening and putting together a touring plan for your day. Also, be flexible, rides go down, and things happen. Let’s get into Universal Studios Hollywood Wait Times and Secrets to avoid them.
Universal Studios Hollywood wait times with Express Pass
You can add the Universal Express ticket to your purchase at any time.
Before you start your day or once you enter the park you can add express access to your day. Do not wait until the afternoon to purchase it, you might not get the full benefit of the pass if you purchase it too late in the day.
The main reason people purchase this add-on is to bypass lines and cut times down significantly. Depending on the day and what is going on will determine how much time you will save but for the most part, you are “virtually” waiting inside the park for part of the wait time and then the additional wait time you spend in line for the ride.
You do bypass a significant portion of the ride’s queue (or main line) so if you care for all the easter eggs and fun rooms through the queue you might not find that skipping the line is valuable.
Longest Wait Times at Universal Studios Hollywood
- Super Nintendo World – Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge – Most popular ride at the moment
- On a hot day – Jurassic Park rethemed to Jurassic World The Ride
- Secret Life of Pets – often offers a virtual queue option that stops reservations in the early afternoon
I will also note prior to Super Nintendo World opening, wait times were lower more often, now that it has a new and extremely popular ride and land, it has impacted Universal Studios Hollywood wait times overall. We have also heard some talks about the new permit that has been filed and the potential new rollercoaster in the next few years. The Disney side jabs during the studio tour are unreal and hilarious, so it seems Universal Studios Hollywood is looking to step up its game here on the west coast and compete with Disneyland.
We love both parks for what they have to offer and if you are wanting to accomplish Universal Studios in a day we suggest taking advantage of the add-ons to your Universal Studios Hollywood tickets. The two add-ons are the Universal Express Pass and upgrading to the VIP Experience they offer.
The VIP Experience is the best way to experience the park and get a behind-the-scenes look at your favorite shows, and almost gives you a front of the line pass. You get express access to each ride, attraction, and seated show unlimited times.
While the Express pass only gives you access once per ride. On a busy day, this would make it significantly more enjoyable to get threw the most popular attractions.
Universal Studios Hollywood Average Wait Times
In the morning and late in the afternoon, the average wait time is significantly lower, during peak times like mid-afternoon wait times can be as high as 120 minutes for some popular rides like Forbidden Journey and Mario Kart.
Universal Studios Hollywood wait times are so much lower compared to those in Orlando at both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Universal Studios Hollywood is more of a “locals” park so the experience is incredibly different.
Weekdays are the best days to go, the last time we were there it was a Tuesday right after the opening of Super Nintendo World and each day following the opening of the new land brought busy days and minimum 45-minute wait times for most rides.
We still had a great time and got to ride all the popular rides except for Mario Kart, our daughter isn’t quite tall enough. We also would have spent a lot of time waiting in line for that ride and had a lot to accomplish.
This trip was a working trip for me, I do believe if you get early access or a virtual line pass for Super Nintendo World you can accomplish everything in one day.
Things to do in Universal Studios Hollywood
There are 11 rides and attractions. With no inversion-style roller coasters. The only real coaster they have and it is an entry-level coaster at best is Flight of the Hippogriff.
I am going to discuss the few new items they have added because they don’t really fall into those two categories.
Universal introduced this interactive land concept with the Wizarding World and it has taken off.
Ollivanders for example, wouldn’t categorize as an attraction or ride, I would put it in the interactive section since you can pick a wand with Olivander and it has a short line most of the time.
Once you have your interactive wand (you can also buy them inside with no wait, just make sure it’s interactive) you can go through Diagonally and cast spells.
It’s a lot of fun and a must-do.
Now Super Nintendo World took this to a new level with the power-up bands and secret keys. I will say, right now after opening it is very busy and there are lines for these interactive mini-games. I have high hopes the games will soon be like casting spells in Diagonally and not have lines or very short if so.
Rides and Attractions
- The World-Famous Studio Tour
- Jurassic World
- Revenge of the Mummy
- New Transformers Ride 3D that took over Back to the Future
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ™️
- Flight of the Hippogriff ™️
- The Simpsons Ride ™️
- Silly Swirly
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Ride
- Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash
- DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda
Special pass required for area
- Super Nintendo World
- Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge
- Keys Mini-Games
Shows and Lands
- Super Silly Fun Land
- WaterWorld – Special Effects Show
- Wizarding World of Harry Potter ™️
- Super Nintendo World
- Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron
- The Minions
- The Simpsons
- Shrek, Princess Fiona, and Donkey
- Curious George
- Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, and the Gang
- Beetle Juice
- Raptor Encounter, Triceratops, and baby dino
- Poppy and Guy Diamond
- Princess Peach, Mario, and Luigi
- And so many more
One of the best parts about the characters in Universal Studios Hollywood specifically is that they wander around and really engage with parkgoers. They spend a lot of time with kids and adults to make them feel special during their time with them.
While you are walking down the streets of the park keep an eye out for the characters since they can be standing among people and you might not even notice them. I held hands with Frankenstein on our way out of the park.
The World-Famous Studio Tour
World famous for good reason. While it can be a little cheesy at times. This tour takes you on the history of the lot, the movies, and the characters. While on the tour you will encounter an earthquake simulation from a movie set, King Kong in 3D, a scene from psycho, Fast in the Furious Full Throttle, and the best time with Bruce from Jaws.
Re-themed a few years ago from Jurassic Park, this water ride, and yes you can get wet, is one of my absolute favorite rides.
Revenge of the Mummy
Transformers The Ride 3D
The New Transformers ride took over Back to the Future and while I love back to the future, it’s hard to meet anyone in their 20s who has seen or cares for the movies. In 2011, the re-theme was completed and the new transformers ride was completed.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™️
With Wizarding World being such a hit in Orlando, Hollywood added the themed land in 2016 with two awesome rides. You enter through the gates of Hogwarts for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™️ and tour the school while seeing multiple different rooms and classes like Dumbledore, Defense against the dark arts classroom, the many pictures on the walls, and so much more. We think the queue of this ride is one of the best since it has so much detail and hidden easter eggs. The ride itself uses state-of-the-art technology and a little magic to fly you through the school with harry and his friends.
Flight of the Hippogriff™️
The perfect entry-level coaster for your littles or anyone who is a little hesitant to ride a coaster. With a 39-inch height requirement, even littles can enjoy this ride.
The Simpsons Ride™️
On again off again! If you want to get a chance to ride this do not wait! If you see it open with or without a line jump on it. I have a feeling about Simpsons Land after visiting recently but we will see what they have planned. While it can be tough to jump on this ride, you will love the silly fun roller coaster indoor simulation.
Your basic run-of-the-road aerial carousel-style ride. Our daughter is obsessed with these kinds of rides so we always make it a priority to go on them. This area is themed after the Super Silly Fun Land in the movie Despicable Me that Gru takes the girls to. The area is very adorable and they did a great job, especially adding the Silly Swirly carousel, while they ride a roller coaster in the movie, we would have loved to see that, the Minion Mayhem ride takes you on a bit of a coaster-style ride. A little tip for the joystick for movement. The cars go up very easily but down is a little tricky, continue to hold onto the joystick while pressing down, and the car with slowly decent.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Ride
We’ve waited in line 3 times for this ride and have only ridden it once. Minions Mayhem never got below an 80 min wait the entire time we were there until about 8:00 at night, then it finally dropped to 45 min and we decided to make our third attempt. It is an intense simulation ride and if you are one of those that have issues with motion sickness we suggest Dramamine or possibly skipping this ride. Dramamine typically works for me and I didn’t take it on this ride, about an hour after the ride and a car ride to our hotel, I was extremely sick, and regretted riding it.
Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash
WE LOVED how cute this ride is. You are transformed into a puppy where you are going through the adoption process when all goes wrong and snowball gets you back on track and cleaned up for your new human parents. The queue for this ride is ABSOLUTELY adorable and very interactive for kids. Our favorite was the dog in the kitchen getting a back rub from the mixer. One of our top tips for this ride is to monitor wait times and if they open up a virtual queue jump on a time so that you can secure riding the ride. Once the virtual passes are gone no more are available for the day and they do not allow people through the line.
DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda
Weve heard amazing things about this show experience. It is currently themed for Kung Fu Panda and it is projected onto all of the walls so make sure you sit farther back.
Biggest Tip for Saving Time
Stairs over Escalators
Take the stairs and skip the long series of escalators unless you have to for strollers, wheelchairs, bad knees, etc. I saved significant time in line on one of the rides in the lower lot. Jurassic World had a 30 min wait time, and I was in the upper lot when it notified me in the universal app. Mitchell was going to stay with Sloan, he is not big on water rides, and she isn’t tall enough yet, to be honest even with the height hacks that are out there, it is a little too intense on the scary scale with the few t-rex’s that jump out. So off to the lower lot, I went while they look the escalators.
I did take the first escalator down behind two gentlemen. It seemed to take a long time with everyone standing on the escalators, so I decided to jog down the stairs. I made my way down 300 stairs and to the ride entrance.
Once I was in line, I noticed those two gentlemen from the first escalator and started counting the people between us. Each boat takes about 20 people. 5 boats, making the wait time significantly longer just because I didn’t take the stairs.
Taking the stairs multiple times is not fun, but if you are trying to make it to a ride with a lower wait time in the lower or upper lot depending on where you are at, this is a great way to save a little bit of time.
Best Rides First or Last
If you have access to Super Nintendo World this tip does not apply. But if Super Nintendo World is open with no restrictions then make sure you make Mario Kart a priority first thing. The wait time will be high and will not drop for most of the day. Now if you are not making that area a priority at all, head to minions, and the secret life of pets if you have children.
Another Universal Studios Hollywood wait times secret is to split your party up in the single rider line. We use the single rider on rides that one of us loves but the other doesn’t want to join. Many people will just floor the single rider and Universal will close them down, so this is not our favorite one of the tips because of that.
Use The Universal Studios Hollywood Mobile App
While you shouldn’t always trust the wait times on the app you have everything you need in the palm of your hand. The ride boards get updated the quickest, and the app is still VERY helpful because of the use of GPS, but watch your battery. You can set attraction wait times at your ideal wait time and set a notification.
Where you park matters! There are multiple options for parking once you enter. You have the ability to pick between General Parking, Preferred Parking, Front Gate, and Valet. Parking starts at $30 for the day depending on where you pick. On the most recent trip, we opted for preferred parking because I had a little bit of work to do in Universal Citywalk and needed quick access to our car. There are 4 garages and one main lot to park in, if you are there early and go with general parking you should be fine for walking distance to the park entrance in the parking garage. If not, and you are looking to save time parking is one of the quickest ways to save time.
Depending on the time of year you go, popular theme parks provide the perfect day for many travelers on vacation, especially when it comes to kids being out of school. If you can travel outside of school breaks do it, and if you are limited to travel during off-school times with everyone else, use our tips for saving time to make your park experience fantastic.
Here are the holidays and times to watch out for:
Halloween Horror Nights
Adults Only or Tall enough for all rides:
1 day with or without an express pass. With a heavy side note for Super Nintendo World.
1 day with an express pass for a faster run-through, or 2-day park pass without an express pass. Either way, we suggest not trying to cram everything into one day as a family, that is a lot and it will be a full day.
It is possible if the park is open late but if you are visiting outside of their peak season you might not have enough time to accomplish everything and not feel rushed.
We use www.undercovertourist.com for all of our park tickets. You can purchase multi-day theme park tickets for a discount
BUT you can only purchase the early access pass from the Universal Studios website.
How Much Time do you need for Super Nintendo World?
There is so much to do in Super Nintendo World, we suggest a 2-day admission ticket with the early pass to ensure you get in, you can always get to the park early and try for the virtual line pass at the front gates from the app. That way you can spend as much time going through all of the secret keys, ride, interactive areas, restaurant, and character meet and greets. Then have the entire other park days to do everything else in the park.
For $20 you can purchase an early access pass in addition to your general park ticket to gain access to Super Nintendo World. Without one of those two things the early access pass or the virtual line pass, you will not gain access to the area. There are stations once you get into the park down by Transformers, but I did not stop at them since we already had our passes. I’m not sure if you should chance the kiosk but you never know.
You can look at current wait times and show times even when you are not in the park on the official theme park app
More Guides You Might Like
Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood
Southern California Theme Parks
Universal Studios Hollywood is located in Los Angeles at 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608